I haven’t talked about the war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD for a while now. There was some news at CES. Blu-ray has finally finalized the specification. Missing from the current specification is the 100GB disc format. Prices were also announced. Blu-ray players were announced at $1000. A bare bones, no fancy features HD-DVD player will be out for $500, but the normal players were $800. Remember, DVD was very expensive at launch as well, those prices will fall fast. HD-DVD didn’t make that big an appearance at the show I hear, so it’s hard to say exactly what is going on. Word on the street seems that Toshiba is taking a loss to sell the unit at $500, even being as minimal as it is. The $1000 price for Blu-ray was for a Samsung. HD-DVD will have a 3 month head start in the market.
Let’s see if I can recap the state of things:
Pros: Far more storage space. Many more movies available on it. Potentially the cheaper format in time. Blu-ray/DVD dual discs have both formats on the same side, so their is a nice printed side to hold.
Cons: Will be behind HD-DVD by 3 months. Doesn’t have the name recognition factor of DVD that HD-DVD has. More expensive for the disc replicators at the start.
Pros: Had the average consumer recognition factor by having DVD in the name. Cheaper for replicators at the start. Gets a head start of 3 months.
Cons: Doesn’t hold nearly as much as Blu-ray, it takes 2 layers to nearly equal one layer of Blu-ray. HD-DVD/DVD combo discs have content on both sides, that is a flipper disc with no printed surface to hold.
All that said. I don’t know if the name recognition factor matters since the average consumer that would be swayed by such a thing can’t afford the players at the moment. Actually, this could work against them. Selling a HD-DVD disc, the average consumer may be confused and buy it thinking it will work on their regular DVD. I think by the time the players get to the average person’s price range the war will be largely over.
The head start may or may not matter. The people who can afford it, and would be interested, that is actually have a high definition tv in the first place, may just wait for the war to end. Some early adopters may jump on it just so they can watch a few movies in HD, but I don’t think sells of either will take off until they are both out, and may wait until Sony’s Playstation 3 come out where the real war starts. If Sony can get it out cheap enough, and Toshiba matches with their player’s, actually, they will need to greatly undercut it since the PS3 adds the ability to play games.
I personally still believe Blu-ray is the best format. HD-DVD is nothing more then a stepping stone. Blu-ray has the best long term viability.